SUGAR LAND, Texas (AP) — Roger Clemens' second start for the Sugar Land Skeeters had a special twist to it when the 50-year-old right-hander pitched to his son who was squatting behind the plate.
As enjoyable as it was on Friday night, it wasn't enough to convince Clemens that he is ready for a return to the majors.
"At this point I don't see that happening, because I just know my recovery time right now," he said regarding pitching for Houston this season. "I think I've pushed my body and shoulder to where it needs to be."
But true to form, Clemens, who has already come out of retirement three times to pitch in the majors, left open the possibility of a future comeback.
"I would have to get ready," Clemens said. "It would be fun. There's no reason why I couldn't do it next year."
Clemens pitched 4 2-3 scoreless innings for Sugar Land of the independent Atlantic League with his oldest son Koby catching him against Long Island.
Pitching in front of a sellout crowd that included country music star and Clemens buddy Toby Keith, and Houston rapper Paul Wall, Clemens looked better than he did last month when he tossed 3 1-3 scoreless innings for the Skeeters.
He allowed two hits and struck out one, and was awarded the win by the official scorer in the 4-0 victory.
"What a special game this is when you have opportunity at 50 to go out there and play a little catch with your oldest son," Clemens said.
His 25-year-old son was awed by the chance to catch his father, who won 354 games in a 24-year major league career.
"There's not many words that describe the opportunity and special moment this really was," Koby Clemens said. "For me it's the most unreal thing that I could have done."
The seven-time Cy Young Award winner pitched a perfect first inning before getting his only strikeout when he caught Brandon Sing looking to start the second. The first hit was a two-out single by Matt Esquivel in the second. He retired the side in the third and allowed one hit — a single — in the fourth.
His last out of the fourth inning was a fly ball hit by former New York Mets outfielder Timo Perez. He had faced Clemens before, going 0 for 4 against him the second game of the 2000 World Series when Clemens pitched for the crosstown Yankees.
He retired the first two hitters in the fifth before he hugged his son and headed to the dugout to a standing ovation.
For the first time, Clemens is set to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot that will go out to voters later this year. If he plays in a major league game this season, his timetable would be pushed back five years.
The Rocket's fastball was clocked as high as 88 mph, and he also threw curves and splitters.
He threw 54 pitches, and looked spry fielding a dribbler and throwing a batter out at first in the fourth inning.
"After having only pitched twice competitively in the last five years or so, I think it's great progress," said Tal Smith, a longtime former Astros executive who is now a special advisor to the Skeeters. "His command, his stuff and certainly his knowledge of pitching and his acumen are good enough to pitch at any level, I think."